Q. Dear Zenagos, I’m ready to go out on my own, but I’m not sure which business idea to pursue – I have so many ideas! How do I choose the best one?
One of our truisms at Zenagos is: “The way to get started is to get started.” Every day that passes in which you think about your idea, but don’t do anything, is a lost day for your new business. Also, every day that you make a concrete step toward starting your business brings you closer to your dream. So, it’s time to transition from thinking to doing.
How do you make that transition? Pick an idea, and start taking concrete steps toward making it happen. In order to help you choose, consider two questions:
Which idea gives me the most energy and enthusiasm?
As Obi Wan Kenobi says, “trust your feelings.” Ignore all the thoughts in your head, and examine how you feel about each idea. Which one gives you the most enthusiasm? Put this one in your top two.
What does your gut tell you?
You have a ton of real-life experience, and your instincts have real value. (If you don’t believe us, check out Malcolm Gladwell’s book Blink.) What does your gut tell you is the most promising idea? Put this one in your top two.
Now, pick between the two. (Or, if they are the same idea, choose that one.) If you have trouble choosing between the two finalists, flip a coin. It doesn’t matter how you choose, as long as you choose one idea. Having chosen it, absolutely convince yourself that this is the best idea, the one idea, the only idea. Convince yourself that you believe in this one idea completely.
Take concrete steps forward
Now that you have absolute conviction in your idea, start taking some concrete steps toward making it happen. Again, it doesn’t matter exactly what steps you take, as long as they move you forward. You could take a program on how to start a business. You could file for an EIN with the IRS. You could get a free mentor from SCORE. Just do something. What will happen as you start to take action is that you will learn. Learning is a scaffolding process. The more you learn, the more you can learn. Once you get started, you will set the building process in motion.
Uncertainty and change are part of the entrepreneurial process
One thing you may learn is that the idea you chose in your coin-flip process is actually not the one you want to pursue. That’s okay; making a dramatic change (which entrepreneurs call “pivoting”) is an absolutely normal part of the new business development process. When you make the pivot to the new idea, you will know more – more about business, more about your ideas, and more about yourself. The initial commitment process was designed to get that learning process going.
Believe in yourself
The key to entrepreneurship isn’t intelligence or wealth or luck. It’s belief – you need to believe in yourself and your ability to learn and adapt. The only constant in life is change, so it doesn’t really matter what you choose – what matters is that you learn and adapt to change. So, just take a step, a small step, and then another and then another. You can do amazing things this way – run a marathon, swim the ocean, cross the desert – you will astonish yourself. You can do it. We believe in you!